US20090107672A1 - Method of Treating a Formation Using Deformable Proppants - Google Patents

Method of Treating a Formation Using Deformable Proppants Download PDF

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US20090107672A1
US20090107672A1 US12258810 US25881008A US2009107672A1 US 20090107672 A1 US20090107672 A1 US 20090107672A1 US 12258810 US12258810 US 12258810 US 25881008 A US25881008 A US 25881008A US 2009107672 A1 US2009107672 A1 US 2009107672A1
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proppant
fracture
deformable
formation
deformable proppant
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US12258810
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US7875574B2 (en )
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Robert Gordon Fulton
Adolph Joseph John Peskunowicz
Garnet Ross Olson
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Trican Well Service Ltd
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Canyon Technical Services Ltd
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B43/00Methods or apparatus for obtaining oil, gas, water, soluble or meltable materials or a slurry of minerals from wells
    • E21B43/25Methods for stimulating production
    • E21B43/26Methods for stimulating production by forming crevices or fractures
    • E21B43/267Methods for stimulating production by forming crevices or fractures reinforcing fractures by propping
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C09DYES; PAINTS; POLISHES; NATURAL RESINS; ADHESIVES; MISCELLANEOUS COMPOSITIONS; MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATIONS OF MATERIALS
    • C09KMATERIALS FOR MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATIONS, NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • C09K8/00Compositions for drilling of boreholes or wells; Compositions for treating boreholes or wells, e.g. for completion or for remedial operations
    • C09K8/60Compositions for stimulating production by acting on the underground formation
    • C09K8/80Compositions for reinforcing fractures, e.g. compositions of proppants used to keep the fractures open
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/29Coated or structually defined flake, particle, cell, strand, strand portion, rod, filament, macroscopic fiber or mass thereof
    • Y10T428/2982Particulate matter [e.g., sphere, flake, etc.]

Abstract

A substance and method for treating a subterranean formation using hydraulic fracturing. A non-metallic, substantially deformable, proppant particle is “elastically flexible” or “plastically compressible” and adapted for use at concentrations which will substantially create a partial monolayer. The method for treating a formation with a non-metallic deformable proppant, includes the steps of injecting a carrier fluid into the formation, the carrier fluid carrying an amount of the deformable proppant, wherein the carrier fluid is injected at a pressure and a flow rate sufficient to create or open an existing fracture or fracture network in the formation, and placing at least a portion of the deformable proppant in the fracture, the deformable proppant forming substantially a partial monolayer in the fracture, and reducing the pressure and/or the flow rate sufficient to allow the fracture in the formation to at least partially close, wherein at least a portion of the deformable proppant remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of now pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/360,140 filed on Feb. 22, 2006, and Canadian Application No. 2536957 filed on Feb. 17, 2006, the entireties of which are herein incorporated by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to proppants for fracturing operations for subterranean formations. More particularly, the present invention relates to deformable proppants.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • In oil and gas operations, stimulation or treatment of the subterranean formations using a fluid containing suspended particles, referred to as hydraulic fracturing, may be used to improve production. That is, a fluid, referred to in the art as a fracturing fluid, is pumped or injected through a well bore into a subterranean formation to be stimulated at a rate and pressure such that existing fractures are opened and/or new fractures are formed and extended into the subterranean formation. The fracturing fluid carries particles, referred to in the art as proppant particles, into the fractures. The particles are deposited in the fractures and the fracturing fluid dissipates into the subterranean formation and/or is returned to the surface. The particles function to “prop” open or prevent the fractures from closing whereby conductive channels remain through which produced fluids can flow to the well bore.
  • The paper “Propping Fractures with Aluminum Particles”, Kern L. R. in (Petroleum Technology, June 1961 p. 583) teaches the use of malleable aluminum particles for producing high-conductivity fractures. Kern also teaches that flow capacity may be increased several fold with a sparse distribution of particles, but such flow capacity is limited by both crushing of the propping particles and by embedment of the propping particles in the walls of the formation. Kern teaches that as high loads are applied to the malleable aluminum particles, they deform slightly but do not shatter resulting in an increased bearing area against the formation wall, reducing stress on the malleable aluminum particle and reducing penetration of the malleable aluminum particle into the formation. Kern assesses the performance of nearly spherical aluminum particles which are deformed to produce nearly uniform disks (deformed thickness less than or equal to 0.5 times the original nearly spherical diameter). Kern suggests that malleable aluminum could be used in combination with sand to lower costs (compared to aluminum alone) and to provide a safety net in the event the aluminum does not perform as expected.
  • Disadvantages of propping with aluminum include limitations associated with the specific gravity of aluminum which restricts the fluids which may be used to place aluminum proppant particles, and the fluid may require special treatment such as viscosification or emulsification, etc., and in addition, as suggested by Kern, the high cost of aluminum is a factor. In addition, formations typically fractured today are very susceptible to damage produced by the fracturing fluid itself. This requires the use of less viscous fluids and physically less liquid (or foam) or gas (nitrogen, carbon dioxide etc.). Less viscous fluids and less volume of liquid or foam or gas means less carrying capacity for proppants, which may mean that proppants may not always enter the fracture or many not be distributed along the full length of the fracture.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 3,933,205 (Kiel) teaches a method for increasing well productivity by multiple hydraulic fracturing cycles using no proppant (self propping) or using sand as a proppant. The initial cycles are designed to form spalls of the formation material in the fracture and subsequent cycles displace the spalls into the fracture, thus propping the fracture open or creating extensions or branches and propping open the extensions or branches.
  • However, this method relies on causing formation damage to create the desired spalls and teaches only the use of no proppant or sand as a proppant.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 5,531,274 (Bienvenu) teaches a high strength, lightweight proppant for use in hydraulic fracturing, having a specific gravity approximately equal to the specific gravity of water. Bienvenu teaches that such a proppant, such as a styrene-divinyl-benzene copolymer bead, set in a formation as a packed mass of particles adjacent to a fracture, will prop open the fracture.
  • However, when closure stress exceeds the deformation limits of the proppant in the packed mass, the effective permeability of the packed mass (and the related conductivity of the formation) decreases as the proppant is deformed, thus reducing or eliminating the flow channels that normally exist between the particles forming the packed mass.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,059,034 (Rickards et al.) teaches a formation treatment method using deformable particles, the deformable particles formed of a blend of fracture proppant material and deformable particulate. As examples, the fracture proppant material may be a material such as sand, and the deformable particulate may be a material such as polystyrene, as divinylbenzene beads.
  • However, this blend requires that both materials be blended and sufficiently mixed, and may result in the usual problems with sand type fracturing, such as fines.
  • It is, therefore, desirable to provide a deformable proppant that avoids the problems of metallic proppants, that is not formed into a deformed packed mass, and can be used on its own without additional proppants to improve stimulation and increase productivity in the fracturing operations of subterranean formations.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • It is an object of the present invention to obviate or mitigate at least one disadvantage of previous proppants.
  • In a first aspect, the present invention provides a non-metallic, substantially deformable, proppant particle that is “elastically flexible” or “plastically compressible” adapted for use alone as a propping agent in subsurface formation fracturing operations at concentrations which will substantially create a partial monolayer. The proppant may be an organic, inorganic, or combination polymer. The proppant may be manmade or naturally occurring. The proppant may be a single polymer or a mixture of polymers to form the particles. The proppant may include a single polymer or a combination of polymers that are layered or coated to create a particle. The proppant may include a solid outer shell or layers of polymer that encase an inner fluid.
  • Preferably, the proppant has a sphericity of 0.9 to 0.3, tested in accordance with API RP 56. Preferably, the proppant has a roundness of 0.1 to 0.90, tested in accordance with API RP 56.
  • Preferably, the proppant is shatter resistant under a closure stress. Preferably, the expected closure stress to be resisted is between about 10 MPa and about 80 MPa. More preferably, that closure stress is between about 20 MPa and about 50 MPa.
  • Preferably, the proppant is resistant to chemical reaction. Preferably, the proppant is adapted to be substantially non-soluble in a formation fluid, and vice versa. Preferably, the proppant is substantially non-permeable. Preferably, the proppant is a material selected from the group of high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), or styrene-divinyl-benzene copolymer.
  • Preferably, the proppant includes particles having a specific gravity of between about 0.1 and about 2.5. More preferably, the particles have a specific gravity of between about 0.5 and about 2.2. Most preferably, the particles have a specific gravity of between about 0.9 and about 2.0.
  • Preferably, the proppant has a crush resistance of more than substantially 50 MPa. More preferably, the proppant has a crush resistance of more than substantially 80 MPa.
  • Preferably, the proppant has an undeformed maximum cross sectional measurement of about 5.0 mm. Preferably, the proppant is formed to have a pre-deformed initial shape, the initial shape comprising a disk, rice-shape, cubeoid, spheroid, or toroid (donut).
  • In further aspect, the present invention provides a method of treating a subterranean formation with a non-metallic deformable proppant, including the steps of injecting a carrier fluid into the formation, the carrier fluid carrying an amount of the deformable proppant, wherein the carrier fluid is injected at a pressure and a flow rate sufficient to open a fracture (creating a new fracture or opening an existing fracture) in the formation, placing at least a portion of the deformable proppant in the fracture, the deformable proppant forming substantially a partial monolayer in the fracture, and reducing the pressure and/or the flow rate sufficient to allow the fracture in the formation to at least partially close, wherein at least a portion of the deformable proppant remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture.
  • Preferably, the amount is selected such that the proppant is placed in the fracture in a monolayer about 1.0 layer thick. Preferably, the amount is between about 10 and 40 kg/m3 of carrier fluid. More preferably, the amount is between about 25 and 100 kg/m3 of carrier fluid. Most preferably, the amount is less than about 200 kg/m3 of carrier fluid.
  • Preferably, the portion of the proppant that remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture is distributed at a proppant concentration, the proppant concentration in kg/m2 being less than 1.088 (r)(SG), wherein r is the equivalent radius of the proppant in millimeters and SG is the specific gravity of the proppant.
  • Preferably, the fracture is a single or multiple fracture with both generally vertical components and generally horizontal components. The fracture may include a portion that is a generally horizontal fracture.
  • Preferably, the carrier fluid is a gas (for example CO2, N2), a liquid (for example Water, HC), a foam (for example liquid, gas, and surfactant) or a combination thereof (for example N2+CO2+Water).
  • Preferably, the proppant is elastically deformed under a closure stress. Preferably, the proppant is plastically deformed under a closure stress. Preferably, the proppant is elastically and plastically deformed under a closure stress. Preferably, the closure stress is between about 20 MPa and about 80 MPa.
  • Preferably, the proppant has an elastic deformation resistance and a plastic deformation resistance, and the closure stress is greater than the elastic deformation resistance and the closure stress is less than the plastic deformation resistance.
  • Preferably, the proppant is deformed when a closure stress is applied.
  • In a further aspect, the present invention provides a method of treating a formation with a non-metallic deformable proppant, comprising the steps of applying a treatment cycle comprising the steps of i) injecting a carrier fluid into the formation, the carrier fluid carrying an amount of the deformable proppant, wherein the carrier fluid is injected at a pressure and a flow rate sufficient to open a fracture in the formation, ii) placing at least a portion of the deformable proppant in the fracture, the deformable proppant forming substantially a partial monolayer in the fracture, and iii) reducing the pressure and/or the flow rate sufficient to allow the fracture in the formation to at least partially close, wherein at least a portion of the deformable proppant remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture, and then repeating the treatment cycle at least one time.
  • Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the attached Figures, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a simplified cross-sectional view of a subterranean formation showing hydraulic fracture treatment of the formation and typical examples of resulting fractures using the method and substance of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 2 a-e are representative simplified drawings of a portion of a fracture propped with a partial monolayer placement of proppant using the substance and method of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is representative simplified drawings the fractures of FIGS. 2 a-e taken along the lines a-a through e-e.; and
  • FIG. 4 is a magnified view of a proppant of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Generally, the present invention provides a method and substance for propping a fracture in a subterranean formation, such as in hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas production industry used to fracture underground reservoirs bearing oil and gas, to provide or enhance flow channels to improve the fluid conductivity of the formation to provide increased oil and gas production rates.
  • Referring generally to FIG. 1, the method and substance of the present invention are applicable to a wide variety of fractures, including (but not limited to) substantially vertical, substantially horizontal, and dendritic (or branched) fractures. The method and substance of the present invention may be used for hydraulic fracturing operations using equipment commonly used for conventional (sand) fracturing operations, known to one skilled in the art.
  • Referring generally to FIGS. 2 and 3, the method and substance of the present invention includes a monolayer of varying concentrations.
  • Referring generally to FIG. 4, one example of a proppant of the present invention is shown, in a pre-deformed state.
  • The deformable proppant of the present invention may be of a unitary material or may include a core surrounded by a shell. The core may be a fluid (liquid), such as water, hydrocarbon, or other fluid known in the industry. This composite (liquid with shell) design provides a less compressible base and increases the elastic limit while allowing the shell to deform, reducing embedment into the formation. The core may be a gas. This composite (gas with shell) design provides reduced specific gravity.
  • The proppant and method of the present invention can be used with equipment typically used for fracturing operations known to one skilled in the art, using conventional carrier fluids.
  • The art has been developing with very high concentrations of proppants and very viscous carriers to substantially create a multilayer proppant pack. The state of the art requires a large amount of proppant to maximize the propping open of the cracks formed in the formation, such as 1,000 kg/m3 of proppant (or more).
  • Placing that much proppant that is a deformable proppant leads to a “pack” that is deformed into a low conductivity mass by closure stresses in the formation. This leads to the practical necessity that the proppant be spherical and very rigid to allow the spaces in-between individual proppant particle when closely packed act as flow channels (i.e. remaining open even under the closure stress of the formation). However, the rigid particles may then become embedded into the formation when closure stress is applied, leading to lower conductivity or formation damage.
  • In the present invention, a partial monolayer is formed to prop open fractures. The partial monolayer arrangement allows improved conductivity and the deformable proppant reduces embedment of proppant particles into the formation. In order to obtain the partial monolayer placement of the proppant, the proppant is introduced into the carrier fluid at a relatively low concentration to substantially create a partial proppant monolayer rather than a closely packed multilayer.
  • The deformable proppant may be any shape, including but not limited to: spherical, disk shaped, rice-shaped, or cubical.
  • “Proppant concentration” refers to the amount of proppant per unit area of fracture wall (measured on one side only). In US customary units, it is expressed in pounds of proppant per square foot of one wall of fracture. In SI units it is expressed in kilograms per square meter of one wall of fracture face. In SI units, the Deformable Proppant Concentration in kg/m2<1.088 (r) (SG) where r is the equivalent radius of the proppant in millimeters and SG is the specific gravity of the proppant. In US customary units, the Deformable Proppant Concentration in lbm/ft2<5.647 (r) (SG) where r is the radius of the proppant in millimeters and SG is the specific gravity of the proppant.
  • Two example applications are outlined below:
  • Case #1
  • A sandstone formation in Alberta, Canada was treated with conventional fracturing techniques with initial flow rates being too small to measure (TSTM). A similar treatment on the same formation utilizing 2270 kg of light weight polystyrene divinyl benzene deformable proppant (CBM-LWP) with a specific gravity of 1.05 was placed in stages. Each stage was engineered to place proppant within the fracture at a concentration of 0.0825 kg/m2. Proppant was pumped at a concentration between 25 and 150 kg/m3 of carrier fluid. After initial flow back, the well produced measurable gas and the subsequent pressure build up and analysis showed a stimulated well.
  • Case #2
  • A dry coal (Horse Shoe Canyon Formation) in Alberta, Canada is normally treated with high rate nitrogen fracturing. A well from the field was fractured using 330 kg of light weight polystyrene divinyl benzene deformable proppant (CBM-LWP) in each of two coal seams. Each stage was engineered to place proppant within the fracture at a concentration of 0.0825 kg/m2. Proppant was pumped at a concentration of approximately 13 kg/m3 of carrier fluid. After initial 300 hour flowback, gas rates were higher than surrounding wells.
  • As used herein, “crush” means catastrophic failure of the proppant and “deformation” means any change in shape of the proppant.
  • The above-described embodiments of the present invention are intended to be examples only. Alterations, modifications and variations may be effected to the particular embodiments by those of skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined solely by the claims appended hereto.

Claims (37)

  1. 1. A non-metallic, substantially deformable, proppant particle that is “elastically flexible” or “plastically compressible” adapted for use as a propping agent in subsurface formation fracturing operations at concentrations which will substantially create a partial monolayer.
  2. 2. The deformable proppant of claim 1, comprising an organic, inorganic, or combination polymer.
  3. 3. The deformable proppant of claim 2, where the polymer is manmade or naturally occurring.
  4. 4. The deformable proppant of claim 1, comprising a single polymer or a mixture of polymers to create the particle.
  5. 5. The deformable proppant of claim 1, comprising a single polymer or a combination of polymers that are layered or coated to create a particle.
  6. 6. The deformable proppant of claim 1, comprising a solid outer shell or layers of polymer that encase an inner fluid.
  7. 7. The deformable proppant of claim 1, having a sphericity of 0.9 to 0.3, tested in accordance with API RP 56.
  8. 8. The deformable proppant of claim 1, having a roundness of 0.1 to 0.90, tested in accordance with API RP 56.
  9. 9. The deformable proppant of claim 1, being crush resistant under a closure stress.
  10. 10. The deformable proppant of claim 9, wherein the closure stress is between about 10 MPa and about 80 MPa.
  11. 11. The deformable proppant of claim 10, wherein the closure stress is between about 20 MPa and about 50 MPa.
  12. 12. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the deformable proppant is substantially chemically inert.
  13. 13. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the deformable proppant is adapted to be substantially non-soluble in a formation fluid.
  14. 14. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the proppant comprises a material selected from the group of high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), or styrene-divinyl-benzene copolymer.
  15. 15. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the particle has a specific gravity of between about 0.1 and about 2.5.
  16. 16. The deformable proppant of claim 15, wherein the particle has a specific gravity of between about 0.5 and about 2.2.
  17. 17. The deformable proppant of claim 16, wherein the particle has a specific gravity of between about 0.9 and about 2.0.
  18. 18. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the proppant has a crush resistance of more than substantially 50 MPa.
  19. 19. The deformable proppant of claim 18, wherein the proppant has a crush resistance of more than substantially 80 MPa.
  20. 20. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the proppant is substantially non-permeable.
  21. 21. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the proppant is substantially non-absorbent of fracturing fluid.
  22. 22. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the proppant has a predeformed maximum cross sectional measurement of about 5.0 mm.
  23. 23. The deformable proppant of claim 1, wherein the proppant is formed to have a pre-deformed initial shape, the initial shape comprising a disk, rice-shape, cubeoid, spheroid, or toroid (donut).
  24. 24. A method of treating a subterranean formation with a non-metallic deformable proppant, comprising the steps of:
    a. injecting a carrier fluid into the formation, the carrier fluid carrying an amount of the deformable proppant, wherein the carrier fluid is injected at a pressure and a flow rate sufficient to open a fracture (creating a new fracture or opening an existing fracture) in the formation;
    b. placing at least a portion of the deformable proppant in the fracture, the deformable proppant forming substantially a partial monolayer in the fracture; and
    c. reducing the pressure and/or the flow rate sufficient to allow the fracture in the formation to at least partially close,
    wherein at least a portion of the deformable proppant remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture.
  25. 25. The method of claim 24, wherein the amount selected such that the proppant is placed in the fracture in a monolayer or 1.0 layer thick.
  26. 26. The method of claim 24, wherein the amount is between about 10 and 40 kg/m3 of carrier fluid.
  27. 27. The method of claim 24, wherein the amount is between about 25 and 100 kg/m3 of carrier fluid.
  28. 28. The method of claim 24, wherein the amount is less than about 200 kg/m3 of carrier fluid.
  29. 29. The method of claim 24, wherein the portion of the deformable proppant that remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture is distributed at a proppant concentration, the proppant concentration in kg/m2 being less than 1.088 (r)(SG), wherein r is the equivalent radius of the proppant in millimeters and SG is the specific gravity of the proppant.
  30. 30. The method of claim 24, wherein the fracture is a generally horizontal fracture.
  31. 31. The method of claim 24, wherein the fracture has both a generally vertical and a generally horizontal component.
  32. 32. The method of claim 24, wherein the carrier fluid is a gas, a liquid, a foam or a combination thereof.
  33. 33. The method of claim 24, wherein the proppant is elastically, plastically, or elastically and plastically deformed under a closure stress.
  34. 34. The method of claim 33 wherein the closure stress is between about 20 MPa and about 80 MPa.
  35. 35. The method of claim 24, wherein the proppant has an elastic deformation resistance and a plastic deformation resistance, and the closure stress is greater than the elastic deformation resistance and the closure stress is less than the plastic deformation resistance.
  36. 36. The method of claim 24, wherein the proppant is deformed when a closure stress is applied.
  37. 37. A method of treating a formation with a non-metallic deformable proppant, comprising the steps of:
    a. applying a treatment cycle comprising the steps of:
    i. injecting a carrier fluid into the formation, the carrier fluid carrying an amount of the deformable proppant, wherein the carrier fluid is injected at a pressure and a flow rate sufficient to open a fracture in the formation;
    ii. placing at least a portion of the deformable proppant in the fracture, the deformable proppant forming substantially a partial monolayer in the fracture; and
    iii. reducing the pressure and/or the flow rate sufficient to allow the fracture in the formation to at least partially close, wherein at least a portion of the deformable proppant remains in the fracture to prop open at least a portion of the fracture;
    b. repeating the treatment cycle at least one time.
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US11360140 US20070193745A1 (en) 2006-02-17 2006-02-22 Method of treating a formation using deformable proppants
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US12977462 US8062998B2 (en) 2006-02-17 2010-12-23 Method of treating a formation using deformable proppants
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CN102942334A (en) * 2012-10-24 2013-02-27 亿利沙材料科技有限责任公司 Film-coated modified propping agent, and preparation method and application thereof
CN103043947A (en) * 2012-12-27 2013-04-17 亿利沙材料科技有限责任公司 Tectorial membrane proppant as well as preparation method and application thereof

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